JAB No. 10

Richmond Vale Railway Museum


A picture containing train, grass, tree, outdoor

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A scanned print image of J & A Brown No.10 stored (largely away from public view) at Richmond Main on 27 April 2002.


Kitson and Company, Leeds

Builder’s Number & Year

Kitson 4798 of 1911

Wheel Arrangement



Since J & A Brown’s four ex-Mersey Railway 0-6-4T locomotives had proven disappointing on Richmond Vale Railway main line coal haulage, Kitson & Co of Leeds were engaged to design and build a suitable heavy tank locomotive for this work. The product was a chunky 2-8-2T locomotive, based on their earlier 0-8-0 tender design which Kitson had built for the Great Central Railway as their class 8A. Presumably Kitson were able to re-use much of the class 8A drawings, patterns and tooling; indeed, this handsome tank loco looked like it belonged on the Great Central Railway rather than an antipodean colliery line! The locomotive became J & A Brown No.9 and proved successful over the grades and tunnels of the Richmond Vale Railway as it crossed the Sugarloaf Range. Two further locos Nos.10 & 11 followed in 1911, with the trio receiving handsome brass nameplates ‘Pelaw Main’, ‘Richmond Main’ and ‘Hexham’ after the line’s principle running sheds:

No.9 ‘Pelaw Main’

Kitson 4567 of 1908

No.10 ‘Richmond Main’

Kitson 4798 of 1911

No.11 ‘Hexham’

Kitson 4834 of 1911

The Great Central Railway family likeness within J & A Brown’s loco fleet was reinforced after World War 1 with the arrival of thirteen 2-8-0 locomotives purchased as war surplus from the British Army’s Railway Operating Division (ROD). The ROD had built 521 such locomotives to the Great Central Railway’s class 8K design, itself a development of the 0-8-0 class 8A design upon which J & A Brown’s 2-8-2T locos were based. Interestingly, the Great Central Railway’s first class 8K 2-8-0 loco was completed in 1911 and so it can be imagined that famous design may have been influenced by J & A Brown’s earlier 2-8-2T.  In any case, the J & A Brown loco stud certainly displayed a strong Great Central Railway influence, and the tender and tank locomotive types apparently benefitted from interchangeability of many parts.

The three 2-8-2T locos originally wore dark green livery and were shedded at Pelaw Main for coal haulage through the Sugarloaf Range and across Hexham swamp to the NSWGR exchange sidings and coal staiths on the Hunter River at Hexham. They were largely displaced from main line running by the ROD 2-8-0’s, while the 2-8-2T locos were better suited to shunting the long lines of 4-wheel hopper wagons and cutting out any cripples. Photos show the 2-8-2T locos also hauled the J & A Brown miners’ trains (comprising a ramshackle collection of 4-wheel passenger carriages) over the ‘link line’ between Pelaw Main and Richmond Main collieries – which now forms the running line of today’s Richmond Vale Railway Museum.

All three of the 2-8-2T locos found somewhat sporadic use later in their working lives, including periods of storage or hire to nearby colliery lines. No.11 proved the unlucky one, last working in 1950 and scrapped in September 1966 together with other retired J & A Brown locos stored in the ‘Fodder Shed’ at Wallis Creek.

Following the closure of Pelaw Main and Richmond Main collieries in the 1960’s, the railway through the Sugarloaf Range was truncated back to the shorter trip across Hexham Swamp to Stockrington Colliery in the foothills. The remaining ROD 2-8-0 locos joined the eclectic mix of steam locos dumped near the Hexham loco shed, while No.9 and No.10 were returned to service to handle remaining traffic including shunting at Hexham and the nearby coal washery.

The webmaster has fond memories of Nos.9 & 10 and the railway operations at Hexham because family holidays involved driving past on the way to the mid-north coast. Being approximately mid-way on our journey – and my father having an interest in steam locos - a stop at Hexham was always part of the trip! We would first enjoy an ‘OAK’ milk shake, followed by a detour over the NSWGR railway crossing to the extensive nests of Richmond Vale Railway sidings. As circumstances permitted (including the complaints of less patient family members) we would try to get to the steam loco running sheds! Early 1970’s visits were greeted by lines of rust-streaked ROD 2-8-0’s, which had tragically disappeared by Christmas 1973 - to the heartbreak of this young enthusiast - while the two Kitson 2-8-2Ts could still be found shunting the washery or returning from Stockrington Colliery. Four ex-South Maitland Railways 2-8-2T locos later joined the running shed at Hexham, with the older loco No.9 being the last of the two Kitson tank engines active when retired in 1980. Rather ominously they were then stored outside the running shed in much the same position as the ROD 2-8-0’s which met their fate in 1973. By the 1980’s I also recall the hundreds of wooden coal hoppers were progressively being burned – one or two at a time - for scrap metal at a site near the wash plant, with the remaining iron and steel recovered from the ashes.

Alas the remaining portion of the Richmond Vale Railway closed in September 1987 after consultants devised a ham-fisted strategy to replace rail haulage at Stockrington Colliery with road transport, resulting in a worker’s strike and blockade at the loading bins. Road haulage apparently was not sufficient to maintain financial viability and Stockrington Colliery closed in 1988, marking the end of a fascinating relic of living industrial heritage. Today there is little trace of Stockrington Colliery and its loading sidings; while the rails remain in situ from the colliery across Hexham swamp, unfortunately the route was severed when the Newcastle Freeway was extended across the trackbed. The Hexham swamp itself has been a focus of restoring the natural environment, which had been damaged by tidal intercepts and drainage schemes which starved the swamp of the necessary water inflows. On a more positive note, a portion of the Richmond Vale Railway route through the Sugarloaf Range has now been reopened as a cycling track.

Fortunately, both No.9 & No.10 were preserved, moving by road to the formative Richmond Vale Railway Museum on 19 June 1982. (I first became aware of the Richmond Vale Railway Museum following another family holiday to the mid-North Coast, but where the two tank locomotives were not present outside the Hexham running shed! Concerned that they might have gone the way of the ROD 2-8-0’s, I made enquiries which led to the happy news they had moved to Richmond Main Colliery, where a museum and operating railway was being established. I next saw the two locos at my first visit to Richmond Vale Railway Museum in 1984 on a learn-to-drive day trip under the supervision of my father, and have returned for many visits since.)

During an early visit to the Richmond Vale Railway Museum (RVRM) a volunteer discussed consideration of returning one of the tank locos to steam at reduced boiler pressure, as full pressure was not needed for a light passenger train. Alas such a reactivation has never occurred; in practice I imagine both tank locos require extensive boiler renewal and mechanical work before they could be steamed, together with the thorough inspection and documentation of all parts that is required by modern safety regulations and insurance provisions. Instead, the two locos remained in open display within the colliery sidings, receiving at least one cosmetic repaint around this period. Alas the RVRM lacks a suitable covered display building for their large railway exhibits and the elements have taken their toll on Nos. 9 & 10, and the two were shunted away from public view by 2000 – possibly also due to concerns about boiler insulation, or the locos being unsafe for children to climb on. Fortunately, their impressive brass nameplates and builder’s plates are held in safekeeping and are displayed among the small exhibits.

During 2020 cosmetic repainting of No.9 had begun, with the locomotive moved to a prominent display position while No.10 remained in storage away from visitors. Hopefully funding can one day be found for a suitable display building for large exhibits such as these locomotives.

Several excellent books have been written about the railways and locomotives of J & A Brown and the South Maitland Coalfields, and the rich variety of locomotives and operations make for compelling reading for ferroequinologists. Perhaps the most comprehensive source of information for No.9 and her stablemates is the well-illustrated work ‘Coal, Railways & Mines – The Story of the Railways and Collieries of J & A Brown’ by Brian Robert Andrews, published by the Iron Horse Press, 2004.

J & A Brown tank locos No.9 & No.10 out to pasture near the Hexham loco shed, circa 1982.

Gaps in the paintwork clearly show where the name and builder’s plates had recently been removed, but fortunately they were saved for display.

Drifting black smoke in the background reveals the presence of one of the SMR 10-class tank locos drafted in as replacements.

This photo was kindly contributed by Anthony Winstone.

Much the same scene as the colour view above, but in Black & White – I love the comparison between the two formats.

Both locos display a distinct deformation in the running plates in front of the cylinders – possibly due to lifting, or evidence of many years of heavy shunting.

This photo was kindly contributed by Anthony Winstone.

,A train on the railway tracks

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J & A Brown No.9, No.23 (ROD loco - frames & tender) and No.10 on storage sidings at the Richmond Vale Railway Museum on 27 April 2002.

(The ROD locomotive No.23 has since been cosmetically restored and placed on display.)



Preston, R. G. ‘The Richmond Vale Railway’

published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1989.


Oberg, L. ‘Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010’ (Fifth Edition),

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd


Andrews, B. R. ‘Coal, Railways & Mines – The story of the Railways

and Collieries of J & A Brown’, published by the Iron Horse Press, 2004.

Page updated: 8 August 2021

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